Posted 9/13/2015 12:38 PM (GMT -6)
My treatise on 'Witch Hazel'. These are only my opinions, and I don't encourage that you try what I do, or to believe what I believe...
i must add, "This is a layman's report on witch hazel and is not intended to replace discussions with a health care provider. Do not use the information on this forum as a substitute for your doctor's advice. Always consult your doctor before taking any drug and follow your doctor's directions."
Warnings about using Witch Hazel internally are at the end of this document.
I am not a part of any company, nor am I any extreme expert on Witch Hazel or the making of it in 14% form, or as Thayer's non-alcoholic version. That does not mean, however, that I haven't studied on it quite a bit.
I'm going to try and dispel what I believe to be lies that have been perpetrated on-line because of what is being said about the FDA definitions of what 'Witch Hazel' is.
First, if you believe that Thayer's witch hazel isn't witch hazel... drink 1 Tablespoon of it in a half-glass of water. Most people will quickly find that it IS Witch Hazel quite quickly.
And, people DO drink Thayer's witch hazel. They only drink it if they have severe problems that won't go away even if they have done all the right things (such as a person not being able to afford it when they have prolapsed hemorrhoids, which is my case).
You'll notice that there is no warning on the label of Thayer's to not drink it, but there is a warning on 14% Witch Hazel. Part of the reason for this is because 14% witch hazel is not reliable that it is just witch hazel with no added bad or dangerous alcohols.
Even though there's a person going around saying that only 14% witch hazel is 'real witch hazel', calling Thayers (or other non-alcohol solutions 'pseudo-witch hazel' and that it has to have alcohol in order to be witch hazel, and that the alcohol in it is not added alcohol... that does not mean that some disreputable companies aren't adding either wood alcohol (makes you go blind) or isopropyl alcohol (has a slew of bad side effects if you drink it) to witch hazel after-the-fact.
Maybe some of these don't have 14% alcohol content after they distill it (they should use a hydrometer... but some probably don't have such a carefully controlled distilling process), for example, so they might add the cheaper methanol instead of ethanol to it to bring it back to 14%; or they might add a denatured alcohol to it instead of plain grain alcohol, which is more expensive. Remember that there are thousands of companies that make witch hazel; sometimes in countries like China where there are few strict rules and regulations about manufacturing techniques.
So, if it has a warning on the label about not drinking it, I take that as a warning that it might contain alcohols that could cause severe difficulties if it were drank (see the real warnings about the internal use of witch hazel, in particular, at the end of this document).
The FDA definition states that in order that a tincture be called 'Witch Hazel' it must have 14% ethanol (USP, United States Pharmacopia, meaning you can eat it) grain alcohol, the kind you can drink) in it. But, companies might even use denatured alcohol (ethanol that has had poisons added to it) and still be sort-of within the FDA guidelines for what constitutes 'Witch Hazel'.
So, about the whole 'Witch Hazel having to have 14% grain alcohol in it or it isn't Witch Hazel' controversy:
Lets see what Witch Hazel is. Witch Hazel is a plant that Native Americans used for many medicinal things... none of which utilized alcohol to effect the results. They brewed the bark, stem and leaves, brewed as a tea or applied it mushed-up as a poultice and their ways of doing this had no alcohol in it at all. That did not mean that their solutions were not witch hazel, or was not as good as what is found in stores that is currently called, 'witch hazel'. Alcohol had nothing to do with it being witch hazel. It is called witch hazel because that is the non-scientific name of the plant it comes from.
"The Osage used witch hazel bark to treat skin ulcers and sores; the Potawatomi steamed twigs over hot rocks in their sweat lodges to soothe sore muscles; the Iroquoi brewed a tea to treat dysentery, colds, and coughs."
So, Witch Hazel is a plant and the Witch Hazel plant has no alcohol at all in it, yet tintures, teas, ointments, capsules of its leaves, bark or stems are all still witch hazel even though they don't contain a bit of alcohol. They all contain all the qualities that witch hazel, the plant, has.
Lets get back to the thing that is oftentimes said about Witch Hazel, "people can not internally drink Witch Hazel."
That just isn't true. I drink witch hazel without alcohol with no bad results every day; I do it for my internal hemorrhoids. I also combine 3/4 glass of distilled water with 1/2 tablespoon of Thayers, 1/4 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda and squirt it up my butt with a small enema bulb to relieve problems with my internal hemorrhoids. I guarantee I would not do that if I were using 14% alcohol Witch Hazel. Applying 14% alcohol on, or inside, your butt hole does not do good things to your butt hole.
What made me think that I could drink a poison, or put it up my butt, you might ask. Why would anyone wish to drink Witch hazel?
Well, direct from WebMD:
"Witch hazel is taken by mouth for diarrhea, mucus colitis, vomiting blood, coughing up blood, tuberculosis, colds, fevers, tumors, and cancer."
They don't mention internal hemorrhoids; but it is very difficult for externally-applied Witch Hazel to in any way get to internal hemorrhoids. Internal hemorrhoids aren't generally painful; but mine are.
In my case, I have tried everything that anybody could possibly recommend to get rid of these incredibly painful internal hemorrhoids. When they flare up, I can't sit down. I always like saying, "It's like there's an X-Acto knife up there".
Nothing helped... until I started drinking 1/2 tablespoon of Thayers with Aloe Vera alcohol-free in half-a-glass-of-water every day.
So, my internal hemorrhoid are now much better; and I'm NOT being forced to become an alcoholic in the process. After 5 months of attempts to get rid of it - using every other method that is outlined anywhere to get rid of them. But drinking 1/2 Tablespoon of Thayers and squirting distilled water and Thayers up there is what is working best.
Can one get stomach upset if they drink witch hazel? (or take powdered witch hazel leaves, stems or bark in a capsule such as with Hem-Rid, or such medications)? Yes, of course they can...
Why? Well, tannins. Tannins are what are used to tan leather. tannins are poison.
Tannins can cause things in your intestine to die - which is just the same as when you drink alcohol, which also kills things in your intestines. However, alcohol kills only bacteria, it kills funguses and yeasts less than it does bacteria meaning that intestinal yeast and fungus (of which Candida Albicans, an intestinal yeast that has two forms, is. In its hyphal form it can attach to the colon wall and send out roots) can proliferate. Thus the reason that alcoholics tend to have Candidiaisis.
So, tannins, as opposed to alcohol, kills all things equally, so yeast can't predominate.
Thus, this is the reason that they say not to use Witch Hazel internally... because of this aspect. They have a type of tannin called, " pyrogallol (C6H6O3; Mr 126.1)". So, they don't say that you shouldn't drink it because Witch Hazel is some kind of deadly poison (it is no more poisonous to you than alcohol is).
However, just as is true when you drink high alcohol content alcohol (although nobody ever even considers that they might be destroying their intestinal flora balance when they drink alcohol)... after you take Witch Hazel internally, you might need to repopulate your colon with a good Multidophilus that is enteric coated. This is true of many different powerful techniques that heal things in your colon such as chemothery or radiation therapy. Those are also things that kill good and bad things in your colon and leave it pretty much devoid of life.
So, this action is caused when the higher level of tannins that are in Thayers takes action against the organisms. What? There are more tannins in Thayers than in 'real witch hazel'? Yes there are, because it is distilled from the bark rather than the much less-active stem (87 times higher tannin in the bark than in the stems) or the less-active leaves (31 percent less tannin in the leaves than in the bark).
Do I recommend that people should guzzle Witch Hazel? Of course not. One should always consider anything with tannin in it a 'slight poison'. It won't kill you; but it will certainly cause stomach and colon upset as it kills off the nasties in there.
Consider, though, that we take poisons which contain tannins in them all the time. They're called medicine. One of the main reasons that all medicines need to be sugar coated before you take them is, the bitter taste is caused, most of the time, by tannins. Most over-the-counter, and most you-must-go-to-the-doctor-and-pay-big-bucks-for-this medicines contain tannin.
Why? Because many medicines are derived from plants. And plants have tannins in their bark (and sometimes in their leaves or stem) in order to keep away bugs, fungus, bacteria, viruses and parasites.
Thus the reason that tannins kill all those things. Most foods that taste bitter taste bitter because of tannins. The more tannin in it, the more bitter it is (and the more it will upset your stomach if you haven't backed-off all the bad beasties that live there, mostly Candida Albicans which can proliferate in colons of people who have been givin a ton of antibiotics in their life).
It is interesting to note that on bottles of 14% Witch Hazel it has a warning about internal consumption. There is no warning about internal consumption on Thayers alcohol-free.
I experience little stomach upset when I put 1/2 Tbsp of it in half-a-glass of water; but that's probably because I've been backing-off my intestinal yeast for years now. If you had really bad intestinal yeast living in your colon and you tried drinking it like I do? You of course would experience severe bloating, gas and explosive farts because all that yeast would die-off all-at-once (it's call a Herheimer reaction), and when they die-off they release gas and toxins and those might make your stomach upset.
So... you now know the full story about 'Witch Hazel' (and tannins). This is the real reason they have a warning on normal 'Witch Hazel' bottles to not drink it (and, nobody should routinely drink 28 proof alcohol in any form - yet people poison their liver every day by drinking alcohol as high as 180 proof).
Realize that those who would have problems drinking Witch Hazel would, most likely, also have problems if they ate onions, garlic, cayenne peppers, etc. all because all of those kill off the Candida Albicans in ones intestines in the same way Witch Hazel does.
Just as one shouldn't just start eating three cloves of garlic a day without ending up with horrid gas, bloating, headaches, crying jags, depression, and all the other symptoms of die-off reaction.
So, if you don't believe that Thayers has anything in it that kills anything. That it's just distilled water??? Drink some Thayers tonight. I would almost guarantee, (unless over the years you have already been taking things that kill-off your intestinal yeast and already have it in check) that you would, within three days, find just how wrong you are.
Dieback takes about three days because your liver handles much of it for the first few days. Then, when your liver gives up, the toxins start to build up in the lymph (not a real system... more 'the space between your cells'). The backed-up toxins in your lympth then start to try coming out in tears, sweat, through your skin as skin eruptions like eczema, psoriasis, rashes, etc.
Thus, you might experinece anger attacks, panic attacks, crying jags until all that stalled lymph crap that has backed-up is swept slowly down to your liver and handled through the kepher macrophage cells there (a thing closely related to white blood cells that resides like living organisms inside your liver and creates the filtering affect).
Other nasties in your colon that are being killed by the tannins might include parasites such as liver flukes, pin worms, thread worms, amoeba, tape worms, etc.) They all die.
So, getting back to the 14% alcohol content that 'must be there or it isn't witch hazel' as defined by the FDA's definiton of what 'Witch Hazel' is...
If one is going to drink witch hazel, 14% ethyl alcohol is to drink a 28 proof alcoholic beverage and I don't drink alcohol.
Those who say that Witch Hazel is not Witch Hazel if it doesn't have 14% alcohol just don't know what they're talking about. Yes, you can say that the FDA has redefined the meaning of Witch Hazel by stating that it should have 14% alcohol in it. That does not mean they changed what Witch Hazel is; Witch Hazel is a plant, and no amount of writing definitions will change that fact.
As concerning the astringent qualities of witch hazel. Those effects are found in the plant itself, again having to do with the tannin content. And, just as Witch hazel is an astringent, alcohol is also an astringent. However, to say the astringent qualities of 14% witch hazel all come from the alcohol is just a lie. SOME of the astringent qualities might come from the alcohol, but also the drying qualities of witch hazel also come, in large part, from the 14% alcohol.
"Some common astringent agents include alum, acacia, sage, yarrow, witch hazel, bayberry, distilled vinegar, very cold water, and rubbing alcohol."
"the dry, puckering mouthfeel (are caused by) the tannins (which are types of polyphenols) (which) bind the salivary proteins, causing them to precipitate or aggregate and lead to a rough "sandpapery" or dry sensation in the mouth."
The antibacterial/antifungal/antiviral action is found in the tannins that are in the plant. Tannins are there to protect the plant.
So, although the Federal Government might define Witch Hazel as being 14% alcohol... that in no way means that Witch Hazel without alcohol is not an effective, and in many ways more effective, liquid to use for particular applications.
In many ways, it is my opinion by my own use of the product that Thayers is a much more powerful 'witch hazel' than regular 14% Witch Hazel is. Maybe the Federal Government might not consider it to be 'Witch Hazel' because it doesn't have 14% alcohol in it... but I would not consider it to not be witch hazel any more than I wouldn't consider a tea made from witch hazel bark to not be witch hazel.
So.. in summation. If you are going to use Witch Hazel to slap on your face after you shave? Yes, you are probably right to just buy the bottle from the supermarket.
If you are going to use it on your face for cosmetic purposes? Alcohol dries the skin.
However, if you are going to use it in far more medicial ways, that possibly might not be suggested by the FDA because it would mean that someone would have to know what they're doing, know what tannins can do to your stomach or intestines, have already lowered their internal intestinal yeast ahead-of-time by taking garlic for months and then take it with full-knowledge of what it might do to any parasites or remaining organisms that one might have in there?
Nobody else will ever dare tell you, besides me, that they take it internally; but there are possibly hundreds-of-thousands of those who are doing just that because there just isn't a more effective way of killing things that need to be killed than this way. My internal hemorroids being a good formerly-painful example of what I'm saying.
Would I recommend someone else drinking it? Probably not. One should never screw with the balance of organisms in their colon (meanign they shouldn't take antibiotics when they really have a virus, and they shouldn't drink alcohol). But we all know that isn't going to happen.
But, even if you subtract out that I'm take it internally, all the other things I said would still be true.
It isn't 'not witch hazel' just because it doesn't have 14% alcohol.
And, for your information:
The herb, itself, is called Hamemelis Virginiana
Its tannin designation is Planta Medica 54(1988):454-457 and is called hamimelitannin.
“Hamamelidis folium” consists of the dried or fresh leaves of Hamamelis virginiana L. It contains not less than 3% of tannins, expressed as pyrogallol (C6H6O3; Mr 126.1) and calculated with reference to the dried drug. The material complies with the monograph of the European Pharmacopoeia 6.1, [monograph (04/2008:0909)].
Hamamelidis cortex” consists of the dried bark from the stems, branches and twigs of Hamamelis virginiana L.
Hamamelidis ramunculus (twigs)” have structures called buds, leaf scars and bundle scars that can differ for different species. Hamamelis twig is the herbal substance used in the preparation of hamamelis water, or as Witch Hazel as described in USP monograph.
"Internal use is not recommended because of the high tannin content."
That said, if you go to AskDocWeb:
Natural health supplements sometimes have unexpected side effects or interactions with medication that can lead to adverse reactions that are sometimes life threatening. The following is a list of cautions that you should be aware of before using witch hazel (Hamamelis virginiana). These are referred to as drug/herb interactions.
Warning 1 - Iron salts: Using witch hazel may decrease the absorption of iron salts.
Warning 2 - Pregnancy and breast-feeding: The effects of using witch hazel during pregnancy and breast-feeding are unknown. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.
Used as a natural health remedy: witch hazel is used internally for the following benefits and conditions:
Hemorrhoids (my problem)
Mouthwash, gargle for sore throat
Prolapsed organs (my problem)
Witch hazel is used externally for:
Back pain relief
Cold sores caused by Herpes simplex 1 virus
Hemorrhoids (cloth soaked in strong witch hazel tea)
Reduce bags under eyes
Reduce inflammation of phlebitis (inflammation of a vein)
Reduce pore size
Relieve pain and itching of insect bites and stings
Soothe irritated skin, inflammation (rashes, poison ive and poison oak)
Soothe sore muscles
Stop minor bleeding
Recent studies in Germany and the United Kingdom indicate that witch hazel extract provides some protection from UV radiation in sunlight.
Because of its anti-inflammatory and soothing properties, witch hazel is approved by the FDA as an ingredient in over-the-counter medications to treat hemorrhoids and varicose veins.
Side Effects of Witch Hazel
The known possible side effects of using witch hazel internally are usually mild but can include:
Very rarely some people experience dark urine, yellowed skin and eyes. These symptoms should be reported to your doctor immediately as they could indicate a serious condition such as liver damage.
Using more than 1 gram of witch hazel orally may lead to vomiting, constipation, and upset stomach. Other side effects may also occur when using witch hazel. (See form below)
As with any non-prescription remedy, a doctor should always be consulted before using witch hazel for any medical treatment.
This herb is also known as Winter Bloom, Potted alder, Hamamelis, Hamamelis Water, Hamamelis virginiana, Snapping Hazel, Tobacco Wood, Snapping Tobacco Wood, Spotted Alder, and Striped Alder.
As with any herb, a serious allergic reaction is possible. Seek immediate medical attention if you notice any symptoms of a serious allergic reaction. These may include a rash, itching/swelling (especially of the face/tongue/throat), severe dizziness, or trouble breathing.